1) Your primary output is through Another Tower, your webcomic. Can you tell me a little about how that came into being and how you feel it has evolved over the course of its existence thus far? Also, why the downtime?
A few years ago I read a webcomic called A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible and it was so good it folded my brain up like an origami swan. Before reading it I had mostly dismissed webcomics as just like shittier versions of the kind of gag strips you see in the newspaper. Three panels and a fart joke or something. But this was different. I realized there’s pretty much nothing you can’t do with words and pictures working together. And then you can put it straight on the internet and the whole thing opens up even further. All that possibility seems a little overwhelming sometimes. I think about it and it’s like little electric kisses in my spine.
The comic’s been around for about a year and a half. It’s come a long way. In my head it’s like some prehistoric fish that flopped onto the beach and eventually grew legs and put on a smoking jacket. Mostly that’s just me getting better at drawing. Also at some point I started getting actively into poetry again for the first time since like freshman year in college. The poetry and the comics kind of made a baby in my brain. I’m obsessed with the way the two mediums mimic each other. The formal breaking of lines/panels. The intuitive leaps between images. There’s a lot to explore there. Feels like I’ve been handed a little continent and now I’m going to tear it apart until I get bored.
The hiatus was about me growing really dissatisfied with the layout of the site. Everything needed to be changed. I happened to be getting ready to release this new ebook so it just seemed like the right time to shut everything down and focus on some housekeeping. I’m glad it’s over.
2) Do you feel a distinct difference between the online literary community and any community you may be a part of via your comics?
For me the big difference is that i never really found any webcomic community, even though I’m sure there are plenty out there. It’s a strange thing. I think it has to do with size. The general alt lit population seems small enough that it can hold together as a relatively singular community. But there are a lot of webcomics out there, thousands of them, and i think only the really popular ones make up what you might call a “community.” mostly the webcomic universe just felt lonely to me. I guess maybe I was just too pretentious. A lot of the webcomics I looked at seemed boring and/or bad. There are a handful of great ones, but mostly it just felt like a lot of people shooting all this derivative stuff into space for it to die in silence.
3) Alt Lit: how did you end up here?
I honestly don’t even remember. I think about a year ago I went through a phase where I was reading a lot of html giant. That’s probably It. I don’t know really. I feel like I just went down some internet rabbit hole one day, except this time there was something waiting for me on the other side. Like I stepped into a shitty Narnia for sad people with broadband. It feels like home.
4) Do you feel like you have discovered or learnt anything new since you discovered this community that has directly influence or indirectly rubbed off on your ‘style’?
I think I’ve become more interested in making things compact. When I was younger I used to be smug and read epic phonebook-sized novels and it seemed like I wouldn’t be happy unless I could murder a small forest to write something that looked like Pynchon or DFW. I got off on writing page-long sentences. I was so punchable. I guess it’s natural, part of the same impulse in us that marvels at skyscrapers. You look at a book that big and you can’t help believing it’s some kind of treasure chest. But the internet tends to flow more towards minimalism and fragments and collage. It took me a while to adapt, but I think I’ve got a handle on it now. Ultimately I’d say I’m happier without some dream of being buried alive under the avalanche of my hypothetical great-american-novel.
5) Do you have any plans to release anything new any time soon?
I’m working on a graphic novel right now, but I’m not sure when it will be done. It’s the most substantial thing I’ve ever worked on. It feels like the past two years have been a kind training for this project. I’m also in the very early stages of some collaborative things with friends, but it’s all still tentative.
6) I’m pretty curious about whose work makes the people i interview ‘tick’. Is there anything that you have read or somehow enjoyed recently and feel might be worth mentioning here?
Well if anyone wants to check out some comics here are my favorites that are free online. I promise they are worth your time:
everything on What Things Do (http://whatthingsdo.com/)
everything on Study Group (http://studygroupcomics.com/main/)
Ant Comic (http://kingtrash.com/ants/index.html)
Cochlea and Eustachia (http://www.chromefetus.com/)
Pictures for Sad Children (http://archive.picturesforsadchildren.com/)
A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible (http://alessonislearned.com/)
The Nerds of Paradise (http://www.thenerdsofparadise.com/)
Dresden Codak (http://dresdencodak.com/)